22 August 2007

Paris: The Quality of Light

Before you actually travel to Paris, you may have been there.

You might have imagined, as I did, quays wrapped in light evening fog or gritty neighborhoods of cheap shops and trinket stores. You might have yearned to see Paris come alive in the morning with delivery trucks blocking narrow streets and outdoor vendors already hawking their edibles in street markets.

I did. I imagined all this, based on photos and stories and books. And then I experienced it all first hand.

I was never disappointed. Paris fails to disappoint, time after time.

Much of my early vision of Paris was fashioned by magazine ads for such perfumes as "L'Air du Temps" and "L'Heure Bleu," which inevitably featured pale photographs of the Seine and Notre Dame or Pont Neuf. My teen-aged imagination took flight, and a vision of Paris was formed.

It was palpable. I could smell it and taste it, too.

Eventually, I saw it for myself. And I photographed it.

I love the photo above for the way it captures the watercolor quality of the light over Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Cité at 6 p.m. Our feet were aching, and we stopped to rest on precarious seats above Quay d'Orleans.

It is an ordinary picture of an ordinary moment. And yet because it met my expectations, I wanted to savor it.

And so I did.

Those of you who post here know exactly what I mean. You've experienced this too, if not in Paris, then somewhere else.

Where and when did you have your "Yes, this is it" moment?

10 comments:

Maryann said...

Beauty comes by making the ordinary exquisite. It sounds like you were able to do just that. bravo!

Christine said...

I'm pretty sure that Mr CC and I stood/sat very near the same spot where you snapped your photo, Mimi. Maybe even on the same bench?
This is a beautiful photo and you've captured the light perfectly!

Lydia said...

I don't remember when, exactly, but I've had the aha moment a couple of times in New York City, where I was born, and in Venice, Italy, where I feel quite at home.

Mimi said...

I think the ordinary is exquisite! That's a ice way to ut it, Maryann.

Christine, we seem to visit or chance upon the same place in Paris. I gusess a lot of people do, but somehow I find this fascinating!

Lydia, I am not sure I knew you were a native New Yorker! My aha moments have all been in France. I am wodering if I would have them in Belgium or Ireland, too. . .

katiez said...

Mine was climbing through a rocky pass in the mountains and finding a remote valley covered in forget-me-knots. Mental picture only, my camera and I were not capable of capturing that moment!
Lovely photo, Mimi... I can 'feel' your moment!

Mimi said...

How lovely that must have been, Katie!

I was mentally kicking myself last night for not having a camera with me. I was taking some backroads out to the mall, and I drove past a pond filled with about 6-8 snowy egrets. The trees are starting to turn a bit, and the pond had a slight haze on it. Enchanting!

dharmagirl said...

Beautiful! I have two such moments: one was sitting on a boulder in the middle of twelve mile creek, somwhere along the border of north carolina and tennessee after a short hike. My friends were reading, but I didn't have a book or a journal, so I just sat there and drank in the loveliness.

And then there's the rainy day I sat, alone, in La Maison du Chocolat in Rockefeller Center, NYC, sipping cappuccino and eating a delicious chocolate and lemon layered cake. A perfect New York moment.

Can't wait to have my Paris moment:)

Mimi said...

Dharmagirl, those moments sound wonderful. I have had them alone and in crowds. Five years ago, a friend and I played hookey on a Friday and sat on this spit of sand on her beach. We were surrounded by sea grasses and cattails and gulls and the occasional sandpiper. We could hear the bouy bells from a nearbyu harbor. Heaven!

Terri said...

Yes, I know exactly what you mean and it was in Paris.
I don't remember the precise moment....I've had so many there. Mornings, twilight, all of it makes me know there isn't any other place in the world that I could be...except right there, in Paris. LOVE your photo! You captured it so well.

Mimi said...

Thanks, Terri. I have had that moment so many times in Paris, too.

I never expected Paris to resonate with me the way it has.